Imam’s Past Mysterious Disappearance Haunts Beirut Summit
An incident, which occurred more than twenty years ago, is still having an impact on political affairs nowadays. Libya insists the upcoming Arab League summit should be held in Cairo, Egypt, instead of Beirut. A Lebanese foreign ministry official stated that Libya had asked Lebanon not to host the 22 Arab nation summit, due to take place on March 25 and 26. This Libyan move follows demands from Lebanon's Amal party to bar Libyan ruler Muamar Khadafi from attending the summit.
The Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abderrahmane Chalgam had phoned Lebanese Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud and Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri to explain Libya’s stance. However, the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, commented he was confident that the meeting would be held in Beirut, as originally planned.
The roots of tension between Libya and the Shiite community in Lebanon started when Imam Moussa al-Sader, the founder of Amal, disappeared in 1978 during a visit to Libya. Lebanon accuses Kadhafi’s regime of being behind the mysterious disappearance.
Sader never came back from Libya and was not heard from ever again. Libya, on its part, claims that Sader vanished after leaving its territory for Italy. However, an Italian court ruled out Sader even entering Italy.
Biographer Fouad Ajami states the charismatic Imam “caught the imagination” of the poor Lebanese Shiites, after believing in their cause and later on forming the Amal movement.
After his vanishing, the Shiites in Lebanon failed to find any leader like him, who could unite them and aid them in their struggle. Sader’s photo pictures fill the streets of Shiite areas in Lebanon even till the present day. Sader, a relative of Iran’s President Khatami, was born in Iran.
Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, a Shiite Mufti said with regards to the sensitive matter that “We are for holding the Arab Summit in Beirut on the condition that Khadafi brings with him Imam Sader dead or alive, or does not come at all”. Lebanon’s Al-Safir newspaper quoted the Mufti as saying “Enough of his Evil. Khadafi does not come, does not even get invited”.
Last year, Libyan delegations were sent to Beirut in order to try and solve the crisis, but came back with empty hands. According to an Iranian Presidential envoy, visiting Beirut last month, Tehran had also tried to solve the matter, but apparently with no success as well.
During Amr Moussa’s recent visit to Lebanon to discuss preparations for the Arab Summit, he replied to questions asked whether Lebanon would oppose the presence of Libya at the upcoming summit. Moussa emphasized that nobody could oppose any Arab state from taking part in the summit.
The Arab League called the summit to support the suffering Palestinians and their revolt against Israel’s occupation. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)